The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, to allow them to perform their jobs.
However, even an employee who has a disability as defined by the ADA, and can perform the essential functions of the job, may be fired based on his or her disability if the employee poses a “direct threat.”
So, under the direct threat defense, employees exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 can be legally banned from being in the workplace.
An employee isn’t protected by the discrimination provisions of the ADA if that employee is properly deemed a direct threat.
That’s because a direct threat poses a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others that can’t be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.
If someone with a disability poses a direct threat despite reasonable accommodation, he or she is not protected by the nondiscrimination provisions of the ADA.
But subjective observations aren’t enough.
Assessments must be based on objective, factual information such as the duration of the risk, the nature and severity of the potential harm, the likelihood that potential harm will occur; and the imminence of the potential harm.
More information can be found here.